For the first time sailing I'm on a vessel that takes Cadets. All the Academies require their Cadets to perform some sea service aboard commercial vessels - for me this was the summer of my sophomore year. (I cadet shipped aboard the Horizon Navigator. It was a great ship! An old Sealand Containership on a run between Hawaii and California - I had no idea how good I had it!) I'm just going to put this out there - the Cadets we've had aboard....well, they're punks! There was a day (and it was not so long ago) when Cadets were seen and not heard! Unfortunately, 'the beating of cadets' is no longer allowed.
The other night at supper the Captain, Chief Engineer and I started talking about our years spent at Maine Maritime Academy. It was fun to reminisce - my good memories far outweigh my bad memories - and holy smokes that school has seen some shenanigans over the years!!! They talked a bit about the awful things that were done to them....and the awful things they did to other people. What the table talk really did is get me thinking...about today's Cadets.
While I was in school there was a major crackdown on 'hazing'. A group of Upper Classman got majorly busted after a MUGs (that's what we were called :) Midshipmen Under Guidance - you don't properly become a Fourth Class until MUG month is over) Mother called complaining that her Son had been wrapped up in blue gym mats and then beat with a lacrosse stick.
I was abused in other more creative ways. Like making me stuff my backpack with every piece of clothing I owned and then putting my back against the bulkhead - while being screamed at to make my heels AND shoulders touch the bulkhead...not physically possible folks, not physically possible. We used to have to stand in formation with our arms straight out at our side (called the Iron Cross) for what seemed like hours. Those days can be summed up in a few words: Ironing, polishing, cleaning and screaming - we got screamed at a lot.
We also had 'call-outs'. I was 'MUG Booty-licious'. It went something like this:
MUG Bootylicious Sound Off!!!!
(I'd fall out of formation with the three other girls in my company....and it's true....we were all bootylicous)
We would have to get 'front and center'. We'd be standing in front of our company (which was Bravo) shaking our butts and our fingers singing:
I don't think you're ready for this jelly, I don't think you're ready for this jelly - because Bravo is too bootylicious for ya boys.
(thank you Beyonce....)
Here's the thing - my best friends today are almost all Bravo company boys. Who do I call when I'm in the middle of a field drunk and crying? A Bravo boy. Who do I call for car advice? Bravo boys. Who keeps track of me even though I'm the worst keeper in toucher ever?! The Bravo boys. (There are a couple of Alpha and Charlie boys thrown in there two...and one or two Alpha and Charlie girls....they may as well have all been Bravo as far as I'm concerned....and the intricacies of the female dynamic at a Maritime Academy is a whole different post for a whole different day!)
What did all that ironing and cleaning and polishing and screaming do? It forced us to bond. It turned us into Shipmates. It taught us how to cover for each other and how to wake someone up from a drunken stupor and get them to formation; it taught us to appreciate that people handle stress differently; it taught us that it was better for one of us to get yelled at than all of us to get yelled at....and sometimes it was just your turn to take it on the head.
Today's Cadets are missing out on all that! A sense of entitlement can be detected immediately aboard a vessel - and it doesn't go very far. As far as I'm concerned if a Cadet isn't being put in his place at school than it is our moral obligation to knock the piss out of him / her on the ship. These are the Cadets who join a vessel as Third Mates and get worked by the 'old-timers' on deck.
Do you know the real problem with today's Cadets? They're not being rolled up in gym mats and beaten with lacrosse sticks!